Thursday, 12 November 2015

Sheffield First Hand : An Innocent Abroad

Actually No 3 Son in Sheffield
Arriving at Platfom 1B on Tuesday 10th November, No. 3 son was accompanying his old man on a visit to Sheffield. An excellent opportunity, therefore to see how public transport information would help (or hinder) someone who did not know the city as well as his papa. No 3 son left Sheffield when he was 3!

The challenge then was to find the bus to Crimicar Lane, the one-time home of the fbb family.

There are signs to "buses" within the station concourse.
The signs imply a route across the pedestrian crossing outside the station and along a covered walkway to "Sheffield Interchange".
Travel South Yorkshire (the PTE in unconvincing disguise) publishes two high quality route maps which, according to the "Partnership" (stop laughing at the back!) are on display at interchanges.

Oh, no they aren't.
If there had been a large version of the maps, it might have been easier to find the location. Instead we have farcically inaccurate and pointless "spider maps".
But at least the dreadful spider does show the 120 (in brown) at stop FS5.
But where might that be? The bus station (sorry - interchange) only goes up to stands lettered E. Where is FS5?
No 3 son needed help. "Would this bus stand plan give a clue," asked an innocent fbb.
"I'm following the orange arrows," said the lad, noting in passing that FS5 was opposite the A stands ...
... "and I will ask a man who knows."

Oh, no; you won't. You'll ask a machine.
Which he did! And was offered a print out ...
... which never did.
"And why?" asks the bemused young man, "does it tell me to go to stop FS1 and not FS5?"

Good question.

"And where, pray," continues the interrogation, "is stop FS1?" It is not on the spider map and not on thr bus stands map.

So, off we go to find stop FS5. And there it is, opposite the "A" stands, as predicted.
But we can't get out! We have to walk right along to the end of the bus station, across the crossing ...
... and back along to stop FS5.
But if, instead of turning back, we cross and turn right up the hill, incongruously called Flat Street ...
... where FS1 is just beyond those buses outside Mecca Bingo. FS1 is a much better stop than FS5 because it is the "city terminus" where service 120s take a breather before continuing to Crimicar lane. You could be waiting at FS5 and miss a bus lurking tentatively at FS1.

Eventually, fbb's scion foound a working "booth" which produced this wonder of modern computing technology.
It is hard to read and, frankly, almost impossible to understand because of the weird print layout; e.g.

Hill Silver
Birch Avenue

As a bonus, the answer is also quite wrong. Service 120 stops on Crimicar lane, there is no need to get off one stop early. It actually stops outside the house but no system currently available shows that properly.

Of course, No.3 son is computer savvy and would have used Google Maps to locate the actual address, then researched the timetable which he would then download to be available on his phone.

Or, dangerously, he could have asked a Travel South Yorkshire customer care assistant. Like the A-Team, you have to find one first and on this occasion your blogger and his boy were anxious to have a look-see on Arundel Gate and High Street before the light failed.
The "real person" enquiry desk enquiry would be experienced yesterday (Wednesday).

Might be fun!

SYPTE have closed their excellent enquiry office at Sheffield Interchange but a nearby and temporary desk was staffed by a team of two. Within seconds "the man" had confirmed route number and directed No 3 son to stop FS5.

Oddly FS1 would have been nearer but you can't have everything. And he was using a computer!

A timetable for the service (120) was missing from the racks at the Arundel Gate former enquiry office, also restaff for the changes but was available from the desk at the interchange.

Conclusion : using posters, spider maps, self-service booths and even your best efforts is fundamentally more difficult, less reliable and takes oodles more time than asking a person who knows.

An easy win. Re-open enquiry offices.

 Next bus blog : Friday 13th November 


  1. Sorry if you mentioned this but am I correct in saying that FS5 is actually on Pond Street as Flat Ends where interchange starts

  2. You are technically correct, of course. I would prefer a one letter code for stops because there is a tendency to assume FS = Flat Street. Stops on Snig Hill are CG (for Castlegate) which is a nonsense!